How to communicate your needs

Communicating effectively isn’t natural for many people. One of the most, if not the most, important contributors to a healthy relationship is effective communication. Whether it’s a loved one, a coworker, or your financial advisor, communicating effectively creates trust and respect between two people. Here we review different types of communication and provide a few tips for communicating your needs assertively and respectfully.

Passive, Aggressive, and Assertive Communication

Passive Communication

In passive communication, a person prioritizes the needs, wants, and feelings of others instead of their own. The person does not express their own needs or does not stand up for them. This can lead to being taken advantage of, even by well-meaning people who are unaware of the passive communicator’s needs and wants.

Aggressive Communication

In aggressive communication, a person expresses that only their needs, wants, and feelings matter. The other person is bullied, and their needs are ignored.

Assertive Communication

In assertive communication, the needs of both parties are emphasized as equally important. During assertive communication, a person stands up for their own needs, wants, and feelings, but also listens to and respects the needs of others. Assertive communication is defined by confidence, and a willingness to compromise.

“I” Statements

When a person feels that they are being blamed, it’s common that they respond with defensiveness. “I” statements are a simple way of speaking that will help you share your feelings in a productive and blame-less way. When using “I” statements, be sure to use a soft and even tone to describe how the other person’s actions affect you.

Example Structure

“I feel (EMOTION WORD) when _________”


“I feel concerned when you go so long without texting me back. I am afraid something bad happened to you.”

“I feel worried when you come home late. I find it hard to sleep.”

5 Tips for Soft Startups

When bringing up a problem to someone else (like your partner, coworker, loved one, friend), the first three minutes are crucial. A soft startup sets a positive tone and helps resolve conflict. By starting a conversation calmly and respectfully, you and your partner are more likely to focus on the problem, rather than who’s to blame.

  • Save the conversation for a calm moment

    Wait for a time when you and your partner are alone without distractions or interruptions. Make sure you both are relaxed and not tired, hungry, or stressed.

  • Use gentle body language and tone of voice

    Take an attitude of teamwork and problem-solving. Speak calmly. Don't raise your voice. Avoid hurtful body language such as eye rolling, scowling, or mocking.

  • Use "I" statements to express how you feel

    Focus on how a problem is affecting you, rather than assigning blame.

  • Describe the problem clearly

    Discuss only one problem at a time. Be specific. Vague complaints are easily misunderstood.

  • Be respectful

    Make a polite request rather than a demand. Tell your partner thank you for listening. Be appreciative.

Rules for fighting fairly

When not in the heat of the moment, review these “Fair Fighting Rules” with a friend, family member, or loved one, and agree to follow them whenever a fight ensues…

1 Comments on “How to communicate your needs”

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